Do I need forgiveness as much as my prodigal?

Do I need forgiveness as much as my prodigal?

A Story by Precious Prodigal

May 1, 2014: Do I need forgiveness as much as my prodigal? Please "SHARE" this new Precious Prodigal Post:

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

You’ve heard people say, “If he would only get his heart right…” You may even have said it yourself. And you’re right. Even if your prodigal is dealing with the disease and obsession of addiction, there’s also a matter of the heart…people won’t see lasting change in their lives if there is no change in the heart. And although right actions can lead to right thinking, eventually our prodigals’ hearts…the part of them that determines who they are and how they live…needs to change. And what about us?

I still believe we will never find real forgiveness for others unless and until we have forgiven ourselves. However, that self-forgiveness needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of honesty. Our text verse, 1 John 1:9, tells us that God will forgive us if we confess our sins. However, the verse immediately before that says we’re deceiving ourselves if we say we haven’t sinned.

One of the problems with having someone we love acting out is that we often look great by comparison. After all, we’re the ones doing what needs to be done, taking the kids to church, showing up for work, paying the bills…I mean, just doing what’s right and expected...and often more than our share. What’s wrong with that?

Well, maybe nothing. However, if we’re not careful, we may not see ourselves clearly. God doesn’t compare us to the prodigal and decide we look pretty good. He compares us to Christ, and that’s a totally different measuring stick. No matter how good or sweet or spiritual everyone thinks we are, God says our hearts are “…deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer 17:9) And our prodigal being so often wrong doesn’t mean we’re always right.

Years ago, our pastor asked, “What would our church be like if everyone were as spiritual as you?” I remember thinking about it and deciding the church would be better. Really? Could I have been that arrogant, that proud, that stupid? I shake my head at such foolishness today, knowing it’s only by “the mercy of God that I am not consumed!” (Lam 3:22)

You see, our prodigal isn’t a sinner because he sinned. He sinned because he’s a sinner. And so are we. Even the good things we do are usually tainted by our motives, our heart attitude, or our expectations. I like to believe I have a servant’s heart, and I really do love to cook for people or send cards or surprise them with some small gift. But I wonder sometimes whether I’m motivated by a heart’s desire to serve or the words of affirmation that come from doing it.

Forgive yourself and move on? You bet. But do it without deceiving yourself.  That means we first see that we too have sinned, we confess it and are forgiven, we make it right if we can, and we do our best not to repeat it. Then and only then can we move forward and leave it behind.

Challenge for Today: Can you, just for today, take an honest look at yourself and realize you, like all of us, are a sinner and need to be forgiven?

© 2014 Precious Prodigal

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